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UH Spin-out Endomagnetics Ltd. Showcases New Technology
Endomagnetics will showcase its pioneering technology developments in the intra-operative medical device segment by highlighting its second generation SentiMag technology, which radically alters the sentinel lymph node biopsy protocol through the use of magnetics rather than radiation in breast cancer staging. New SentiMag technology will vastly improve safety, accessibility and accuracy, and reduce treatment cost.
Endomagnetics Ltd. is an outcome of a research partnership between TcSUH and UCL that was established through the Texas/United Kingdom Bioscience Initiative - a program established in 2003 to develop intellectual property and enhance the commercialization of bioscience technologies in the UK and Texas.
The company's first product, SentiMag is an intra-operative medical device for use in the treatment of breast cancer. Globally, 1.25 million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year. In most cases, surgery is required to remove the tumor. During the surgical procedure it is desirable to excise the sentinel lymph node - the node that receives drainage from the tumor - and inspect them microscopically to determine whether the cancer has spread.
Current methods of sentinel node detection present inherent and significant barriers to widespread adoption of the procedure. A key reason is that the current method is based on radiation, whereby locating the sentinel nodes involves injecting a radioactive dye into the lymph around the tumor. The dye then passes through the lymphatic system and collects in the sentinel nodes. The surgeon then uses a hand-held gamma probe to locate the node. However, the use of radioisotopes presents hospital administrators with an expensive logistical burden. There is also reluctance on the part of patients to receive a radioactive injection. Additionally, patients may not have access to hospitals or clinics with nuclear medicine facilities.
Furthermore, the current method is limited by the supply of radioactive isotopes that decay so quickly that they must be supplied to hospital nuclear medicine departments at least every two weeks, and which are made in only a handful of nuclear reactors worldwide. Additionally, an August 2009 issue of ScienceNews reports "...Production of the leading medical-imaging isotope is low and erratic, putting health care in jeopardy." http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2009/08/14/isotope-crisis-threatens-medical-care.html
Secondly, the handling of radioactive materials is subject to stringent regulations, requiring special staff training and segregation of the waste from the operating theater. Thirdly, the cost to the hospital of providing and handling the radioactive materials is high. Consequently, in all countries, the majority of women with breast cancer will never be offered sentinel node biopsy based on this method. In contrast to the radioactive tracer, a typical magnetic tracer has a shelf life of several years. There are no staff safety issues, and therefore no regulatory burden. It is also much less expensive for the hospital than the radioactive tracer, and is, therefore, accessible to all.
Endomagnetics Ltd.'s approach to lymph node location radically alters the sentinel lymph node biopsy protocol. It uses a detection system based on magnetics rather than radiation, with the radioactive dye being replaced by an MRI contrast agent and a novel hand-held magnetic sensor replacing the gamma probe. This considerably simplifies the pre- and post-operative hospital procedures for sentinel lymph node biopsy, as hospitals and surgeons are freed from the constraints imposed by the use of radioactive materials during the staging procedure.
Based on 2007 cancer statistics and market research on the gamma probe market, of the 610,000 breast cancer and melanoma cases treated that year in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australasia, only 153,000 were addressed using the gamma-probe. This indicates that there is a significant unmet need and a potential market worth at least $500 million, depending on the pricing and the choice of sales model.
Furthermore, the Endomagnetics solution provides a sensing platform that has applicability to other medical markets including the staging of lung, prostate and colon cancer, of which there were approximately 2,630,000 cases per year in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australasia in 2007.
About Endomagnetics: Endomagnetics Ltd is an early stage medical device company, a spinout from the University of Houston (UH) and University College London (UCL). The company is developing a portfolio of medical device products based on its unique and patented ability to sense magnetic materials in the human body at exceptionally high levels of accuracy. Endomagnetics Ltd received an initial investment of £350,000 ($580,000) in June 2009 from the Combined London Colleges University Challenge Seed Fund ("CLCUC"), and Bloomsbury Bioseed Fund ("BBSF"), together with private investors. Endomagnetics website: http://www.endomagnetics.com/
About the University of Houston: The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with 37,000 students.
About TcSUH: The Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston is the largest multidisciplinary university superconductivity and advanced materials research effort in the United States, with over 240 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students who work to discover new high temperature superconducting-, energy- and nano- materials, advance their applications in partnerships with industry, and disseminate knowledge through education, outreach, and technology transfer for the benefit of the public and the environment.
For more information about TcSUH, visit the center's Web site at www.tcsuh.uh.edu.
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Research Associate Professor of Physics
Department of Physics and Texas Center for Superconductivity
The University of Houston
Houston Science Center
3201 Cullen Boulevard, Suite 202
Houston, TX 77204-5932
Telephone: +1(713) 743 8219
Fax: +1 (713) 743 8201